Travel season off to ‘sizzlin’ start: 2.2M Floridians on the move over Memorial Day

AAA says high gas prices not deterring motorists

AAA on Thursday calculated the average cost of a gallon of regular gas in Florida and the U.S. had risen to $4.398 and $4.418 respectively, marking a new record high in both metrics.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Travel over Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the busiest in three years, building on a resurgence that began earlier this spring, according to AAA.

The travel agency predicts nearly 2.2 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend, an 8.3% increase over 2021, bringing travel volumes almost in line with those from 2017.

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“By the looks of this Memorial Day travel forecast, the summer travel season is off to a sizzlin’ start,” said Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “People are more comfortable traveling now than any other time in the past two years, and travel bookings are a reflection of that. Reservations for flights, hotels, and cruises for Memorial Day weekend are twice as strong as last year’s holiday and that momentum will likely carry into the summer.”

This year’s forecast marks the second highest single-year increase in travelers since 2010.

All travel modes rebound

A recent AAA survey found that Floridians are more comfortable traveling now than any time during the past two years. That increased comfort is driving growth in all modes of transportation this year, especially air travel.

Florida air travel volumes are forecast to rise 28% from last year, the second-largest yearly increase in more than a decade. The 3 million Americans forecast to fly this Memorial Day weekend is just shy of 2019 levels. The number of Florida air travelers are off by just 1% from 2019.

“Surging demand and weather have challenged flight schedules since the beginning of the year,” Haas continued. “With the type of volume we anticipate going forward, we still recommend the safety net of a travel agent and travel insurance. Both are lifesavers if something unexpectedly derails your travel plans.”

90% of travelers will drive

Despite historically high gas prices, 90% of Memorial Day travelers plan to travel by car. Nearly 2 million Floridians are forecast to take a holiday road trip. That’s 5.4% more than last year’s holiday weekend.

Gas prices for Memorial Day likely to set new record

A combination of tightening global supplies and strengthening demand are the main culprits behind high gas prices.

As of Tuesday, the average price for gasoline in Florida was $4.50 per gallon. Previously, Memorial Day travelers found pump price averages of $2.86 in 2021, $2.60 in 2019, and $2.91 in 2018. The highest average price recorded on Memorial Day was $3.93 per gallon in 2008.

“Coming out of this two-year pandemic, Floridians are eager to travel again, and it doesn’t seem like record high gas prices or other inflationary pressures will stop them,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “Many may look at cost-cutting measures to offset the added expense, like driving shorter distances, staying in a less expensive hotel or spending less on shopping, dining and entertainment.”

About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.